” The Amalia House started life as a request for a humble holiday cottage. Briefed by their clients to create a holiday house on a family estate, Grid Architects ground the parameters down to create a simple low-budget structure that didn’t compromise on visual innovation. Containing just two bedrooms, one for adults, one for children, plus an additional sleeping space in the living room, the Amalia House is compact but dynamic.
The house is set on a gentle slope, meaning that the ground floor is arranged on two separate levels, with the kitchen and dining area raised up above the living room. ‘This way the different functions are separated, and the rooms themselves seem wider,’ says Grid Architects’ Isabella Straus, adding that ‘from the dining table you have a view of the valley through the window on the north façade but there is still a cosy niche in the living room.’
Straus co-founded the office with Ric Thill and Gerhard Klocker in 2005. Now with offices in Nospelt, Luxemburg and in Vienna, Austria, the studio is working on a variety of offices, houses and urban planning jobs. Amalia was a small project for the studio, but one that required intense investigation in order to satisfy all the client’s criteria within the available budget.
From outside, the Amalia House looms menacingly, its hunched, dark shape blurring into a solid monolith from some angles, but a strikingly angular structure from others. Up close, the origins of the strange reflection-absorbing coating suddenly becomes clear; artificial glass. Chosen by the architects for its tactile qualities, as well as the way it helps the structure ‘nullify the optical differences between roof and wall,’ as well as make a connection between the building and the surrounding landscape. It also allows the first floor roof slope to be used as a comfortable terrace.
The first floor cantilevers out to create a covered space for a lawn mower and garden furniture, doubling up as a car port if need be. The living room façade contains two large window openings, dynamically angled to exaggerate the contours of the surrounding meadow and designed to bring the landscape into the heart of the living space. Heat is provided by a wood burning stove in the living area.
From the kitchen/dining area a simple spiral staircase leads up to the first floor accommodation, past a compact WC and shower room. To the rear is the children’s room - with its sloping floor making a fun play space for cars and trains, while to the front of the structure - housed in a cantilever that mimics the cab-over bed of a camper van.
Everywhere one looks the detailing is simple and unpretentious, reflecting the fact that this is a functional structure that will be used in heavy rotation by three couples and their children. A place that will hopefully house many happy memories in the generations to come, the Amalia House shows that in the right hands, a simple shelter need not be banal or generic.” Wallpaper
Amalia House: dining room